Sometimes, while I’m having conversations with Chase, memories emerge that I buried so deep down, they feel pure, crisp, and clear—painfully sharp, yet sharply fascinating—and I handle them so gently, and so lovingly; I know I hid them for a reason.
It’s okay, it’s okay, I whisper internally, and some other force screams, IT’S NOT. IT’S FUCKING NOT OKAY. I AM GOING TO RIP THE PAINT OFF THE WALLS THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE TELLS ME IT’S OKAY. YOU CAN’T HAVE THIS MEMORY. GET OUT.
To say I’m ripping apart internally is not an exaggeration, especially when one of these sharp memories surfaces. These are the nuggets of my untarnished self, separate from camouflaging—clean of the muck of people-pleasing—free from the warping of negative thinking patterns; and the closer I get to them, the more my words don’t work. Sometimes, I find myself regressing so much, I am grunting and moaning more than speaking.
Even if I’m threatened with [redacted], I can always write, and I write so other people can read what I write, not to air out laundry, but to save the one human being who is going through this exact crisis, and in a desperate Google search, they wind up here.
This is about me, and about the other person who’s teetering on the edge; so if you’re that person, listen up:
Most of all,
critically important to the crystallization of my sanity,
these are the memories left unaffected by gaslighting.
Don’t beat yourself up if you relied this heavily on suppression. It’s the sign of a healthy mind when part of you retreats to survive the storm—not the sign of a dysfunctional one.
So this sharp memories come back to me;
And they feel like opening a treasure chest into my true self;
They feel like time capsules I hid in my brain on purpose;
They feel like, if I choose to open them, my windows will fly open like a bad fairy tale, and someone will come into this room and pin me to the floor, but against that fear, I must open this box.
My amygdala freaks out.
My spine hurts. It hits me so sudden.
This must be the essence of trauma. This is the purest essence of fear.
I did not want to lose these buried memories to the fire; I resisted forfeiting these strong experiences to any efforts made to attack the legitimacy of my memory. Every, “You remember things weird,” every, “That’s not how it happened,” every, “I consulted someone else, and they told me you’re wrong,” all of those arrows could fire away into the fortress of my mind, and I would keep these memories safe.
There’s a reason I wanted to keep these sharp memories safe.
I know there’s a reason.
I intend to find out.
These are the memories I protected at the extreme cost of depression.
These are the memories I defended as anxiety wracked my body.
These memories come from all parts of my life: elementary school; junior high; high school; undergrad; even graduate school is littered with a few of them, like cookie crumb trails of the guises I had to wear just to get by.
This is a coping mechanism that many therapists have identified within me, yet I’ve only just now decided, I don’t need this anymore; this powerful form of suppression.
It’s okay, my dear mind.
Just open the box.
Open all the boxes.
One of those memories returned to me yesterday, a crystallization of childhood in the 90s. I think I described it something like this…
You mean you never wanted to hit a reset button on your life?
I remember being a kid, feeling awful about [redacted], then hiding in my bedroom with the door shut, where I could be…I don’t know, safe?
I remember lining a row of stuffed animals, like an army of soldiers, along the bottom of my bedroom door; I didn’t want to suggest I was still awake—I wanted to block out any hint my bedroom light was on—but why is that? Why was that a fear? I was such a young child; certainly I had a simple explanation. I don’t ever recall being yelled at for going to bed late. Was I? Who knows. For now, I’ll say I wasn’t.
The reasoning for the stuffed animals is gone, but…
I would lay on my stomach, in front of my Super Nintendo, the bedroom door protected by a mysterious fear. Then I would push the reset button. I would push and push, without any intention to slow down, at least for some time.
My Super Nintendo was very important; the JRPGs were how I escaped. When I didn’t like the way my escape was going, I could push the reset button and try again.
I wanted a reset button for the real world.
I wanted to hit reset, and go back ten minutes.
I wanted to hit reset, and go back an hour.
I wanted to hit reset, and go back a month, which when I was still single-digits old, felt like a very big reset.
Yet I couldn’t hit a reset button. I could only prepare for the future, so a reset button wasn’t needed. I think this might be the first time I wished to not live in the present moment anymore—I wished, with every fiber I had, that I could exit the real world.
Once this crystallized memory shattered in my hands, I began to question my love for Final Fantasy IV. Is it really that great of a game?—or is it instead, I was desperate of an escape hatch? I knew I risked facing these crystals when I started writing fanfiction; I just wasn’t prepared for the reset button memory.
What was life like in 1991, when Final Fantasy IV Easy Type hit the US shores as Final Fantasy II, and I played it into the ground?
Why did I play it so much?
Why did I record it on VHS tapes, so I could continue watching it when my mother grounded me from my SNES?—why was my SNES taken away?
Why do I feel so defensive and vulnerable, just asking these questions?
What happened? Why am I shaking now?
What is so world-shatteringly frightening, I can feel the reset button on my right hand’s index finger?—I can feel myself stimming. Reset. Reset. Reset.
I was in elementary school, and I wanted a reset.